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Case Summary: Big River Superfund Site $80 Million Settlement for Lead Contamination Cleanup of Approximately 4100 Residential Properties

On April 04, 2018, a consent decree between the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Doe Run Resources Corporation (Doe Run) was filed with the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri to address the cleanup of approximately 4100 residential yards contaminated by lead from former mining operations at the Big River Mine Tailings/St. Joe Mineral Corp. Superfund Site in Missouri. The agreement is valued at over $80 million and involves a mixed funding arrangement where the Agency would pay for approximately 40% of specific response costs incurred by Doe Run.

“Protecting our communities from the toxic effects of lead is one of Administrator Pruitt’s top priorities. I am pleased that this agreement will result in the cleanup of more than 4,000 residential properties, helping to protect the residents of St. Francois County.” EPA Region 7 Administrator Jim Gulliford

The operable unit (OU) being addressed by this agreement consists entirely of residential yards. Lead soil contamination in residential yards and high child impact areas, including day care centers, schools, playgrounds, parks, and greenways pose unacceptable human health risks. The cleanup agreement ensures a safer environment for the residents of the community, and reduced lead exposure for young children.

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Information about Doe Run Resources Corporation

Doe Run is a privately held natural resources company engaged in mining and metal production. Doe Run is the current owner of some of the waste areas and through its predecessor, St. Joseph Lead Company, has owned or operated in all of the major mine wastes area at the site during the time that disposal occurred.

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Information about the Big River Mine Tailings/St. Joe Mineral Corp. Superfund Site

The Big River Mine Tailings/St. Joe Mineral Corp. Superfund site (“Big River”), located in St. Francois County, Missouri, a former mining region known as the "Old Lead Belt,” is about 70 miles south of St. Louis, and is approximately 110 square miles in size. Mining occurred at the site beginning in the 1740s, ending in 1972. Approximately 9 million tons of lead was produced from the mining, creating over 250 million tons of wastes. This resulted in thousands of residential properties becoming contaminated with heavy metals, including lead. In the three zip codes comprising the majority of the Big River Mine Tailings Site, between 9.3 percent and 16.7 percent of children have an elevated blood lead level above 5 micrograms per deciliter. 

More information is available from the Big River Tailings/St. Joe Mineral Corp. Superfund site profile page.

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Overview of the Consent Decree

The consent decree for remedial action and remedial design (RD/RA) requires Doe Run to address approximately 4100 residential properties at the site’s OU1 over a 13-year period. Doe Run will sample the residential yards and remediate all those that exceed the cleanup level (lead concentrations greater than or equal to 400 parts per million (ppm)) set forth in the Record of Decision for the Big River site. The settlement also involves a mixed-funding arrangement where the Agency will reimburse Doe Run for approximately 40% of the specific response costs they incur, with the Agency contributing up to $31.54 million.

The consent decree, filed with the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri, is subject to a 30-day public comment period and subsequent approval by the federal court. Information on submitting comments is available at the Department of Justice website while the comment period for this consent decree is open.

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Contact Information

For more information contact:

Steven L. Sanders
Senior Counsel
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Region 7
11201 Renner Boulevard
Lenexa, KS 66219
(913) 551-7578

Karissa Orris
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20460
(202) 564-0546

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